Sunday, August 1, 2010
POLITICKING FROM AMERICA
Very few people will have read down to this section, but I just wanted to explain that being in Washington has taught me a lot. I want every person to rotate through the government and spend time learning how the state and/or national government work. I would love it if it were like jury duty because it’s really important.
I’ve spoken how Congressmen (reps and senators) only respond to constituents and lobbyist. Every decision they make is whether or not it will get them re-elected. Otherwise, you commit political suicide if you do the right thing and the right thing doesn’t get you campaign dollars (lobbyists) or direct votes (constituents). And remember campaign dollars bring you votes, indirectly. So it’s all about votes.
I’ve learned that the US media is called liberal by conservatives and conservative by liberals. This is because each side focuses on the liberal piece or the conservative piece they see or hear and concentrates on it creating a distorted picture from that concentrated view. You have to look at it holistically or in totality. When I look in totality, it is one way or the other, but I won’t say. I won’t join the argument, but I can say globally (quite matter-of-factly) the US media, again globally, is conservative. We call some people dictators who are elected democratically because they don’t serve US interests (businesses) for example.
So I’ve been trying to figure out why certain things that are morally obvious are hard to do in the US and through the government. I’ve decided that most initiatives tend to be opposed if it affects large corporations negatively, if it could reduce profits of large companies. This is why the electric car has never come into the market for the past 30+ years (I mean a real electric car, not a golf cart that is not allowed to go on the highway or go above 35 mph) or why health care was such a heated debate (we all understand it needs reform regardless of how you want to reform it). Many large changes that are beneficial for the small individual can cause losses for large corporations that have powerful lobbies and it makes it hard. Corporations seem to also affect foreign policy as well as domestic policy. In fact when I came to this realization this year, it reminded me of the book “Confessions of an Economic Hetman” which shows how corporations in the US affect US foreign policy inordinately.
I know US corporations have an inordinate amount of control on the media and US policy especially foreign policy but I’ve been trying to figure out how the link works. I mean does a politician just always side with things that are good for US businesses, naturally? It doesn’t seem logical.
A company is an impersonal entity whose bottom line is profit. That’s all it cares about. If it’s more profitable to ignore safety, safety is ignored. Only when they will go out of business due to law suits or governmental regulations do the take care of things like safety--only when it’s profitable. So the US is controlled by companies. Companies’ bottom line is profit. Therefore, mathematically and logically, the bottom line of the US is profit. Still it leaves the question of how does US policy get shaped by companies instead of by individuals who vote?
It’s quite strange. I’m unimpressed with US history books in our school which don’t seem to paint a factual or balanced picture of our involvement around the world, specifically in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
Anyway, I’ve learned there’s been a “revolving door” in government where the people in the highest offices are also corporate executives and they move back and forth between the two. This creates a really bad dependent link. It’s bad because the government is supposed to be independent of corporations but there is a strong bias in favor of them in terms of foreign (and domestic) policy for instance.
Secondly, lobbyists represent companies and corporations; individuals or small groups cannot afford lobbyists. And Congress listens to lobbyists. Politicians depend on multiple donations and large donations from companies to raise the money needed to run for office, so again there is this connection. If you don’t act in their favor you lose their money.
So, as I’ve said before, whenever US ideals (democracy, freedom, capitalism) clash with US geopolitical interests (remember this usually means corporate interests) the US generally sides with the geopolitical interests. In doing so, we have subtly built up an empire across this land. We are not a lone superpower in the world. We are the lone hyper power in human history, a superpower of any superpower that has ever lived or had an empire in the history of the world.
According to John Perkins’ research an empire has the following characteristics
1) exploits resources from the land it dominates
2) consumes large quantities of resources--amounts that are disproportionate to the size of its population relative to those of other nations
3) maintains a large military that enforces its policies when more subtle measures fail
4) spreads its language, literature, art, and various aspects of its culture throughout its sphere of influence
5) taxes not just its own citizens but also the people in other countries, and
6) imposes its own currency on the lands under its control.
(from ‘The Secret history of the American Empire”)
Well, even though you may not generally see how #5 fits (you can ask me later) all the characteristics fit and match the US in the 20th century and early 21st century. And it’s sad. I’ve talked before about the general procedure for coaxing other countries (#3). First you send in Economic Hit Men (“Confessions of an Economic Hit Man”). If that doesn’t work, you send in jackals (assassins). If that doesn’t work, you send in the military. Remember that EHM (Economic Hit Men) are economic forecasters that go into countries to forecast the amount that a developing country’s economy will grow if they are given a loan. The forecaster over predicts or over exaggerates the amount a large loan will make the country’s economy grow so that the IMF or World Bank, for instance, will grant the loan and the country will be sure to default. Then the country is beholden to the multilateral organization or the US and either constantly paying interest to the detriment of social services to its people, having to side on UN votes with the US, giving up land space for US military bases, etc. This is largely due to the fact that the US largely controls the World Bank and the IMF, if you remember (some equate the IMF with the US Dept of Treasury).
Sometimes this doesn’t work, so assassins are sent in. If that doesn’t work militaries are sent in.
Now most times we have had an excuse to go into these countries--freedom, democracy, liberty, anti-communism, but usually empires (historically) always need an enemy and something to rally the citizens around. US contractors and companies benefit no matter if we win or lose a war. For example, in Vietnam which my friend argued was a war fought only to stop the spread of communism on ideological grounds, US companies and the government benefited from increased arm sales, expanded markets, and a greater labor pool (we now could have sweatshops and outsourcing in Vietnam). In all honesty, when looking at the historical analysis, Vietnam was a regional conflict, not a greater global conflict. This point is harder to see in Vietnam, but many can see that democracy and freedom were not the reasons of the US entering Iraq.
Remember we created the situations in Iraq and Vietnam. In 1963, Kennedy supported a coup against Ngo Dinh Diem in South Vietnam; he was later assassinated which led to a buildup of troops there and eventually the war. Likewise, during the 50’s and 60’s Qasim, the popular president of Iraq demanded Iraqi people share in some of the profits of the oil reaped from his country by foreign companies (US and UK, for example). He threatened to nationalize Iraqi oil which of course the US and UK didn’t like (this pattern has been repeated in places like Venezuela, Iran, etc.). Economic hit men were sent to Iraq, but it didn’t work. So then a young Saddam Hussein was part of team that was hired to assassinate Qasim. Their attempt failed; Saddam was shot and fled to Syria. Kennedy then ordered the CIA to join the MI6 to finish the job. They executed Qasim on Iraqi TV by a firing squad. Saddam came back and placed as head of national security and his second cousin became president. This led to more support later on (when Saddam was our friend against the enemy of Iran), but I’ll continue later.
Most people in other parts of the world understand that the US is responsible for coups around the world: Chile’s Allende, Guatemala’s Arbenz, Venezuela’s Chavez, Iraq’s Qasim, Brazil’s Goulart, etc. This list continues.
When a country opposes US interests, the EHM come in usually followed by jackals if that doesn’t work. Finally the military is sent in. This pattern occurred in Iraq, and I’ll talk about it in another e-mail. The first two steps occurred in Venezuela and there is a huge buildup of US forces in Columbia at the moment across the border from Venezuela. And though Africa was very much hurt by this empire building and it neutralized parts of Asia, Latin America has a rising tide that is changing the story. For such actions quite honestly build up resentment and reaction from the forces of the people within the country. And in Latin America, the people have had enough of leaders who have bought into the system and have been electing, as of late, “leaders of the people,” men who were previously in prison, priests, and farmers.